We chatted to him about his life as a freelancer and his favourite features in Affinity Designer.
Simo, please tell us a bit about yourself and Studio Kukunta.
I am a freelance illustrator and graphic designer living and working in Finland. I previously ran a design studio for nearly 20 years. Now I am working as a freelancer mainly creating illustrations for postcards and designing websites for artists and photographers.
Studio Kukunta is my work name.
What does your typical working day entail?
I have a home office, so my working hours can sometimes be quite irregular. Most of the time I work from nine to five and try not to open the computer in the evening. If I don’t have any client jobs ongoing, I seek new ideas and sketch them out. I try to draw every day, even if it’s just for a little bit.
When did you first start using Affinity Designer, and what are your thoughts on it?
I started to use it as soon as the first public beta version was available. At first, I used it mainly for various experiments, but it quickly replaced my illustration program at the time. Getting started was easy, and everything seemed simple and, above all, fun again. Now I can’t imagine using anything else.
“…it quickly replaced my illustration program at the time. Getting started was easy, and everything seemed simple and, above all, fun again. Now I can’t imagine using anything else. ”
Which are your favourite features, and how do you use them in your work?
My favourite feature is how easily I can switch between the Vector and Pixel Persona and how nice they work together. I also use Symbols quite a lot when I make patterns. Placing elements and making different colour conversions is very easy.
Because my way of working is a bit irregular, the “Save History With Document” feature gives me peace of mind. I can always go back to previous versions, even days after.
I also like the way Affinity Designer works even on a slightly older computer. I use the latest version of Affinity Designer on my 2010 iMac, and everything works great without any hiccups! It’s fast and stable. I love it!
“My favourite feature is how easily I can switch between the Vector and Pixel Persona and how nice they work together.”
Could you talk us through your creative process? How do you turn ideas into finished works?
Usually, I make a quick sketch on paper. It is only a simple and very loose idea that I then develop on a computer. I make one part of the picture ready and then move on to the next. When all elements are complete, I adjust colours, add shadows and all the little details.
My workflow isn’t ridged, so the final result may be completely different from where I started.
Does your process differ much between client and personal work?
No, not really. Of course, the client has wishes about the topic. They give briefs and time frames, so it is easier to approach the work, but the actual process is the same.
Can you tell us what you’re working on right now?
At the moment, I’m doing illustrations for a 2023 calendar.
How do you go about getting your name out there and attracting new clients?
Pretty traditional ways. I approach customers directly by email or by calling and telling them who I am and what I do. Of course, Instagram and Pinterest are also good channels to bring your works to the fore.
Are there any dream projects you would like to work on in the future?
Maybe illustrating a book could be a dream assignment. I love reading all kinds of books. They already give so many inspirations for my works.
Do you have any top tips for success in the world of design and illustration?
Maybe it’s been said many times, but finding/creating a style to stand out is most important. Find your style and try to develop it in everything you do.
“…finding/creating a style to stand out is most important. Find your style and try to develop it in everything you do.”